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Khap Killings
Now, slain boy’s mother faces life threat
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Kaithal, March 28
He is no more but his room is preserved the way it was in 2007. Rani Mukherjee smiles down from a wall while a poster of an intense Aamir Khan adorns another. Zaheer Khan with the ball...but it will never be the same for the lady.

Chandrapati, a widow who lost her husband when the children were very young, is the silent witness of a love story scripted in blood. And every day she relives the cold-blooded murder of her son, Manoj, who had dared to elope and marry the girl of his choice. Babli also lived in the same village and studied in the same school which he had attended.

The son had confided in the mother and she knew about their affection for each other. “ I even went to Babli’s house and requested them to allow her to marry Manoj,” she recalls. But her family failed to respond, forcing the couple to elope.

Chandrapati now lives alone with two bored policemen in plainclothes and her buffaloes as company. The village has boycotted her. Nobody is ‘permitted’ to socialise or speak to her and even the grocer refuses to sell anything. “ I have now stopped going out,” says the lady listlessly, “ whatever I need is brought by my surviving children as and when they pay me a visit.”

But she remembers the last call she received from her son and daughter-in-law from Pipli. He told her that Babli’s family was following them. He was short of money and did not have enough balance to use his pre-paid mobile phone. Babli also spoke to her and asked if she would accept her. “Babli asked if I would keep her and I replied in the affirmative...her voice still rings in my ears,” recalls the mother.

But while the old lady is at peace after the trial court held seven villagers guilty of the ‘honour killing’ , the mood in the village is ugly. “The villagers have threatened to eliminate us,” she explains, “I am enemy number one and my son is a culprit. We’ve been told our ordeal can end if we withdraw the police case but we refused. So, the nightmare continues,” she says stoically.A mention of the case or the couple can trigger trouble, The Tribune team was told. “Don’t mention you are from the media. Take our advice and go back. Don’t say you were not warned,” say some well-meaning men. Another group was even more blunt. “What the courts are doing is wrong enough and the media is squarely to blame.

We know Monday’s verdict will pronounce life imprisonment for those in the police net. That’s not justice. As for you, let sleeping dogs lie. Just go away,” they say menacingly.

But the lady, locked behind a black gate, has steel in her spine and determined to fight her lonely battle for justice.




Haryana khap killings: Sentence today
Bhanu P. Lohumi
Tribune News Service

A file photo of Manoj and Babli
A file photo of Manoj and Babli

Karnal, March 28
All eyes in Haryana and the region are fixed on a sessions court here, which will pronounce the sentence on Monday for the six accused held guilty of kidnapping and murder of a young couple in June, 2007. The six include the brother of the deceased girl, two of her cousins, two uncles and a distant relative and village strongman with political connections.

A seventh accused, the driver of the vehicle used for kidnapping the couple, is to be sentenced for criminal conspiracy and abetting the abduction.

Whatever be the sentence, both prosecution and the defence seem determined to go in appeal though. While the defence claims there is insufficient evidence to hold the accused guilty, the complainants say nothing short of capital punishment would satisfy them.

A prosecution lawyer, Lal Bahadur, holds an inept police responsible for the tragedy and a shoddy investigation. Pointing out that the young couple, Babli and Manoj from Kaithal, were kidnapped when they were being escorted back from court by the police, the prosecution forcefully made the point that the police made no effort to identify the bodies before cremating them as ‘unclaimed’.

The post-mortem report indicated that Babli had been poisoned while Manoj was strangulated to death. While the defence sought the benefit of doubt, the prosecution established the fact that the accused had used a Scorpio to kidnap the couple near Nilokheri and had tied the limbs of the couple before throwing the bodies into the canal.

There were no eye-witnesses either while two prosecution witnesses turned hostile during the trial. The contractor of the toll plaza, where the couple were dragged out from a bus and forcibly pushed into a Scorpio, went back on his statement. The bodies were decomposed and mutilated beyond recognition, making it harder to prove the charges. But Babli’s anklets were recovered from the dead body and parts of it were found in the Scorpio used in the kidnapping. Similarly, eight buttons on the shirt Manoj had worn that day, were recovered from the dead body but two were found in the vehicle. Forensic evidence established they were the same. Finally, Manoj’s purse was recovered from one of the accused. A photograph of the couple was still in the purse while torn pieces of another photograph of Manoj was recovered from the car.

The police colluded with the accused, maintain prosecution lawyers. Indeed one of the main accused, Ganga Raj, was not arrested for several months while the police told the court that his arrest would lead to a law and order problem. But Ganga Raj, it appears, was not present when the couple were killed. But the prosecution established that he was in touch with the killers till the last moment.



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